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The lustre of the better shall exceed,
By showing the worse first. Do not consent,
That ever Hector and Achilles meet;
For both our honour and our shame, in this,
Are dogg'd with two strange followers.
Nest. I see them not with


what are they?
Ulyss. What glory our Achilles shares from Hector,
Were he not proud, we all should share with him :
But he already is too insolent;
And we were better parch in Africk sun,
Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes,
Should he 'scape Hector fair : If he were foil'd,
Why, then we did our main opinione crush
In taint of our best man. No, make a lottery;
And, by device, let blockish Ajax draw
The sort' to fight with Hector : Among ourselves,
Give him allowance for the better man,
For that will physick the great Myrmidon,
Who broils in loud applause; and make him fall
His crest, that prouder than blue Iris bends.
If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off,
We'll dress him up in voices : If he fail,
Yet go we under our opinion still
That we have better men. But, hit or miss,
Our project's life this shape of sense assumes,
Ajax, employ'd, plucks down Achilles' plumes.

Nest. Ulysses,
Now I begin to relish thy advice;
And I will give a taste of it forthwith
To Agamemnon: go'we to him straight.
Two curs shall tame each other; Pride alone
Must tarre the mastiffs on", as 'twere their bone.

[Exeunt. our main opinion — ] Is, our general estimation or character.

9 The sort-] i. e. the lot.
| under our opinion -) Here again opinion means character.

. Must tarre the mastiffs on,] Tarre, an old English word, signifying to provoke or urge on,



SCENE I. - Another Part of the Grecian Camp.

Enter Ajax and THERSITES.

Ajax. Thersites,

Ther. Agamemnon - how if he had boils ? full, all over, generally?

Ajax. Thersites,

Ther. And those boils did run? - Say so, - did not the general run, then? were not that a botchy core ?

Ajax. Dog,

Ther. Then would come some matter from him ; I see none now.

Ajax. Thou bitch-wolf's son, canst thou not hear? Feel then.

[Strikes him. Ther. The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord !

Ajax. Speak then, thou unsalted leaven, speak: I will beat thee into handsomeness.

Ther. I shall sooner rail thee into wit and holiness : but, I think, thy horse will sooner con an oration, than thou learn a prayer without book. Thou canst strike, canst thou? a red murrain o'thy jade's tricks!

Ajax. Toads-stool, learn me the proclamation.

Ther. Dost thou think, I have no sense, thou strikest me thus ?

Ajax The proclamation, -
Ther. Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.
Ajax. Do not, porcupine, do not; my fingers itch.

Ther. I would, thou didst itch from head to foot, and I had the scratching of thee; I would make thee the

3 Act II.] This play is not divided into Acts in any of the original editions.

loathsomest scab in Greece. When thou art forth in the incursions, thou strikest as slow as another.

Ajax. I say, the proclamation,

Ther. Thou grumblest and railest every hour on Achilles; and thou art as full of envy at his greatness, as Cerberus is at Proserpina's beauty, ay, that thou barkest at him.

Ajax. Mistress Thersites !
Ther. Thou shouldest strike him.
Ajax, Cobloaf!4

Ther. He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a sailor breaks a biscuit. Ajax. You whoreson cur !

[Beating him. Ther. Do, do. Ajax. Thou stool for a witch !

Ther. Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted lord! thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an assinego? may tutor thee: Thou scurvy valiant ass! thou art here put to thrash Trojans; and thou art bought and sold® among those of any wit, like a Barbarian slave. If thou use to beat me, I will begin at thy heel, and tell what thou art by inches, thou thing of no bowels, thou!

Ajax. You dog!
Ther. You scurvy lord !
Ajar. You cur !

[Beating him.


Cobloaf!) A crusty, uneven, gibbous loaf, is in some counties called by this name.

- pun thee into shivers - ] Pun is in the midland counties the vulgar and colloquial word for — pound.

6 Thou stool for a witch!] In one way of trying a witch they used to place her on a chair or stool, with her legs tied across, that all the weight of her body might rest upon her seat; and by that means, after some time, the circulation of the blood would be much stopped, and her sitting would be as painful as the wooden horse. GREY.

an assinego —] A he-ass.


thou art bought and sold — ) This was a proverbial expression. 9 If thou use to beat me,] i. e. if thou continue to beat me, or make a practice of beating me.


Ther. Mars his idiot! do, rudeness ; do, camel; do, do.


Achil. Why, how now, Ajax ? wherefore do you thus ? How now, Thersites? what's the matter, man?

Ther. You see him there, do you?
Achil. Ay; what's the matter ?
Ther. Nay, look upon him.
Achil. So I do; what's the matter?
Ther. Nay, but regard him well.
Achil. Well, why I do so.

Ther. But yet you look not well upon him : for, whosoever you take him to be, he is Ajax.

Achil. I know that, fool.
Ther. Ay, but that fool knows not himself.
Ajax. Therefore I beat thee.

Ther. Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters ! his evasions have ears thus long. I have bobbed his brain, more than he has beat my bones: I will buy nine sparrows for a penny, and his pia mater is not worth the ninth part of a sparrow. This lord, Achilles, Ajax,

who wears his wit in his belly, and his guts in his head, -- I'll tell you what I say of him.

Achil. What ?
Ther. I say, this Ajax
Achil. Nay, good Ajax.

[Ajax offers to strike him, ACHILLES

interposes. Ther. Has not so much wit Achil. Nay, I must hold you.

Ther. As will stop the eye of Helen's needle, for whom he comes to fight.

Achil. Peace, fool!

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- his pia mater, &c.] The pia mater is a membrane that protects the substance of the brain.

Ther. I would have peace and quietness, but the fool will not : he there; that he; look you there.

Ajax. O thou damned cur! I shall
Achil. Will you set your wit to a fool's?
Ther. No, I warrant you; for a fool's will shame it.
Patr. Good words, Thersites.
Achil. What's the quarrel ?

Ajax. I bade the vile owl, go learn me the tenour of the proclamation, and he rails upon me.

Ther. I serve thee not.
Ajar. Well, go to, go to.
Ther. I serve here voluntary.

Achil. Your last service was sufferance, 'twas not voluntary; no man is beaten voluntary ?; Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as under an impress.

Ther. Even so ? — a great deal of your wit too lies in your sinews, or else there be liars. Hector shall have a great catch, if he knock out either of your brains ; 'a were as good crack a fusty nut with no kernel.

Achil. What, with me too, Thersites?

Ther. There's Ulysses, and old Nestor, — whose wit was mouldy ere your grandsires had nails on their toes, - yoke you like draught oxen, and make you plough up the wars.

Achil. What, what?
Ther. Yes, good sooth; To, Achilles ! to, Ajax ! to!
Ajax. I shall cut out your tongue.

Ther. 'Tis no matter; I shall speak as much as thou, afterwards.

Patr. No more words, Thersites; peace.

Ther. I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me3, shall I ?


is beaten voluntary :] i.e. voluntarily. Shakspeare often uses adjectives adverbially.

when Achilles' brach bids me,] The commentators are not agreed on the meaning of this word, some referring it to a species of dog, and some to an ornament called a broche, or broach.


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